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Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Sermon)

Biblical Manhood & Womanhood by David Platt

We spend a lot of time talking about the symbol of headcovering on this site. Most of our time is focused on the symbol itself because that’s the part that’s hotly debated. Having said that, we’d be failing to do our job if we promoted a symbol and never spent time making sure that the meaning behind it was clear. In our article “Creation Order” we laid our a very brief summary of biblical gender roles which is called Complementarianism. Today I have a two-part sermon for you that greatly expands on this topic. It’s called Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by David Platt. David is an excellent teacher of the Word and in this sermon he explains (largely from Genesis 1-3) how men and women were created to function in relation to one-another.

I hope you will take the time to listen to or watch these sermons. If we want to see the symbol of headcovering restored, we need to make sure we’re all on the same page as to it’s meaning. So let’s listen and learn together

Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – Part 1 (53 minutes)


Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – Part 2 (51 minutes)


Note: We are unfamiliar with David’s position on head covering. This sermon touches on 1 Corinthians 11, but not on the symbol.


Jamie Carter

The problem I have with all of ths is that it is based on the supposition that a description of the man and the woman in the Garden of Eden is a prescription for all time, all places, and all peoples. How can believers be certain they are not wrong? Even the patriarchs disobeyed creation order.


G’day Jamie,
I guess my question is, why would Christians not suppose
that the description of the man and the woman in the Garden of Eden is a
prescription (a general one, note) for all time, all places, and all
peoples? Paul does.
Um, which patriarchs? I agree that no patriarch was perfect. I’m just not sure which imperfections you are referring to.
Nor am I sure why you link to the link you link to…
Sorry, just a little confused.

Jamie Carter

The patriarchs had multiple wives – Lamech, Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Gideon, Elkanah, David and Solomon. God didn’t give Adam multiple wives. Deborah served as public and spiritual leader for all of Israel as a Judge. Huldah was a prophetess who spoke on God’s behalf to King Josiah, she even indicated that the book of the law that was found was indeed Holy Scripture. None of these people lived as if the story of the man and the woman in Genesis was a prescription for how they ought to live their lives and they were not nearly as far removed from the original sin as we are now. In fact, they would not have known that the serpent in the Garden of Eden was Satan as the book of Revelation, which says that he is, would not be written for hundreds of years. Did these teachings not apply because they did not have the full story? Did these teachings even exist before 1950? The oldest material I seem to find on the CBMW, from the TGC, on complementarianism, biblical manhood, and biblical womanhood is barely older than I am. Head covering itself has more ancient sermons on the subject than the teachings derived from it. The link was just related to the video – from the same church, sort of like the bulletin for the sermon, it’s just notes. Sometimes what isn’t said is written down, and sometimes some things that are written aren’t said.


Oh, I see.

I’ve had multiple discussions about these things in the past, and they tend to end up as unproductive disagreements. So, let me just give one response and you can have the last word. (Unless your comment is so captivating that I decided to respond 😉 ).

The patriarchs sinned and often. But I don’t see how most of the examples you gave are in violation of the pattern and teaching from the creation of the first man and woman.

1. Having many wives is not something even the New Testament teaching from creation forbids, though one wife is held as the ideal. But let’s say it was. It was sin. They sinned. How does that negate the creation teaching?

2. Deborah is certainly an example of leadership that is out of the ordinary. I get the impression that you expect that for the creation model to be applicable, there must be a very narrow set of historical outworkings of it. But people then and now live in a sinful world, and there is enough detail in the passage to suggest that Deborah was reluctant to take on leadership of the armies, and would not have gone out to war had Barak not been so insistent. In other words, her involvement in the war was because of sinful circumstance.

As for judging, it is not irresponsible to assume that it was circumstances rather than a specific call of God that put her in that position. There is no record of God calling her, though clearly he blessed her. It doesn’t stretch credulity to think she would have the same attitude toward that role as to leading the army, especially considering Isaiah 3:12. Regardless, her judging was different from all the other judges in that she was a prophetess to whom people went for judgment, her more active role being something she was not originally called to do.

3. Huldah again exhibits differences from other prophets. In fact, wherever you see a female prophet, they are at home (or,as in the case of the widow Anna, in the temple) and people seek them out. This is in stark contrast to the active roles of male prophets. This indicates that they were fulfilling the role of helper, even though they were also used by God to speak to people.

I’m not sure how that breaks the pattern of the first man and woman.

4. You say that the people of the OT would not have known that the serpent was Satan. How is this relevant? There was a strict Law in the OT which implicitly followed the general pattern of the first couple. In the NT, an era of greater revelation, we have greater insight and specific teaching for a people who are not under the OT Law.

5. Yes, these teachings did exist before 1950. Usually they were assumed, but if you look in commentaries and at sermons on the particular passages (e.g. 1 Cor 11 – try Chrysostom) you will see strong indications that gender roles were understood to be taught by the Bible, and the culture, let alone the Church, lived in light of them.

The difference today is that the culture no longer lives by those teachings, and so they have become more explicit in the church. As so often happens, challenges to biblical teaching causes greater study and more specific teaching. That’s not to say that all the conclusions reached are correct – there is always room for correction – but the fact that there is an upturn in teaching about gender in the last decades in conjunction with the rejection of such teaching by the culture should not surprise anyone, nor does it negate it’s biblical validity.


Excellent points, Alistair.

and thank you, Jeremy Gardiner for posting these sermons.

Jamie Carter

1. Creation teaching also does not forbid incest, but like having multiple wives, it was declared immoral under cultural circumstances. It seems to me that believers are reading more out of Genesis than explicitly exists and throw in only the cultural teachings that bolster their interpretation.

2. To use your argument, if creation is a binding teaching why shouldn’t there be a narrow outworking of it? All teachers I have studied say the exact same thing: men lead, women help. Deborah was the governing authority and the spiritual leader over her husband. Little is said of her husband’s role. Isaiah 3:12 doesn’t take into account every time an adult male ruler lead the people astray in 1st and 2nd kings. There’s more biblical evidance of flawed adult male leadership and successful female leadership. Deborah was a successful leader. Also, there is some evidence that it’s not literal – ‘children’ should be translated to ‘novice’ and refers to leaders that are not actual children, but lack both experience and knowledge in governing. the word for ‘women’ is almost identical to that for exactors – or tax collectors. Which is more likely: women and children rule which opresses people or novice tax collectors rule and opress the people by too much taxation?

3. I don’t think prophetesses were given the agency to wander from place to place being a prophet in the mode of Ezekiel or Elijah. It seems to me she had little choice in the matter, but a description of her as a prophet is not a prescription of how modern prophetesses should base their ministry, either. However, if you are to take Genesis as a prescription, then I don’t see why you wouldn’t take Deborah and Huldah to be prescriptions as well. If you pick and choose which descriptions are prescriptions, then one person might think of Genesis as a description and Huldah as a prescription and not think too much of it.

4. Just pointing out that it took 1500 years for the Bible to finished being written a few hundred years after that for it to be compiled into one volume. They didn’t have verses to point to as the most Biblical interpretation of life – they just lived. Though I would say that if the Holy Spirit hasn’t given us a greater insight after another 2,000 years it would be quite sad. I asked my eldest female relative and she remembers head coverings were for fashion. I think there is more evidence that people were carrying out the command because they were told to, not because they believed in it.

5. That’s the difference, Jesus didn’t tell Christians to disreguard culture or to combat it at every turn. He told believers to get along with governing authorities and to live in peace with those around them, never once did he tell believers that they ought to reform culture based upon his teachings. If culture has changed, christians should not take sides. Culture is rewriting the definition of secular manhood and secular womanhood, Christianity sees itself as the opponent of the world. All that is being achieved is two opposing definitions of humanity being written and taught. How are we to be certain that Christians are not in the wrong when they tend to ignore Jesus’ teachings on the subject?

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